The Browning High-Power Pistol

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Leroy Thompson
Other Publication Information
Illustrators: Alan Gilliland, Adam Hook; Portrait Softbound, 7.25” x 9.75”, 80 pages
Product / Stock #
WPN 73
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

Osprey Publishing has been providing books for enthusiasts since 1968 and since then it has grown, evolved and taken on new challenges until it stands today as one of the most successful examples of niche publishing around.

Leroy Thompson trained and advised military and police special operations units around the world, focusing especially on the tactical use of firearms. He has had over 50 books published and more recent titles include The Hostage Rescue Manual, The Counterinsurgency Manual and Secret Techniques of the Elite Forces. He has also had various firearms books published including Great Combat Handguns, and appeared as a weapons expert on documentaries for Discovery, National Geographic and the BBC. He lives in Missouri, USA.

Adam Hook studied graphic design, and began his work as an illustrator in 1983. He specializes in detailed historical reconstructions. Adam has illustrated Osprey titles on subjects as diverse as the Aztecs, the Ancient Greeks, Roman battle tactics, several 19th-century American subjects, the modern Chinese Army, and a number of books in the Fortress series. His work is featured in exhibitions and publications throughout the world. Adam Hook delivered the battle scene paintings for this book. Check out his webpage at: Adam Hook now lives in East Sussex, UK.

Alan Gilliland was born in Malaya in 1949 and now lives in Lincolnshire, UK. Alan Gilliland spent 18 years as the graphics editor of the UK's Daily Telegraph, winning 19 awards in that time. He now writes, illustrates, and publishes fiction (, as well as illustrating for a variety of publishers including Osprey. Check him out at Alan Gilliland provided the cut-away illustrations for this volume.

Osprey's 73rd book in the Weapon series is a square back soft cover including 80 glossy paper pages. The upper front cover features a color photograph of early Belgian military High-Power FN35. The bottom of the front cover features a color photograph of a British army soldier firing a FN L9A1 on a range at Basra, Iraq, in 2006. I counted 28 black and white pictures, 58 color photographs, one color labeled cut-away illustration, one black and white drawing of John Browning’s original patent, and three color paintings. Adam Hook contributes the three battle-scene color paintings, including two, 2-page spreads. Alan Gilliland provides the labeled color cutaway illustrations of the 9x19mm Browning GP 35.

Designed by John Browning as an improvement on the Colt 1911, the High-Power was introduced by FN in 1935. What made the High-Power was the use of a staggered cartridge magazine, enabling the pistol to carry 13 rounds. One of the most highly used military pistols of the 20th century, the High-Power saw combat from WWII through current day. FN ended its 82-run of manufacturing the High-Power in 2017, but it is still built under license.

Leroy Thompson ably describes the original design and evolution of the Browning High-Power to meet French design requirements, even though the French did not end up ordering the new design. The last model, the Mark III was introduced in 1989. FN did veer from the standard 9x19 mm cartridge and introduced the .40 S&W cartridge to meet the US market, but it was ultimately not successful. The second part of the book goes into detail with the service of the High-Power around the world. Finally, the last part discusses the impact that the High-Power and a nice discussion of its competitors. The contents include:

  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgements
  • Editor’s Note
  • Artist’s Note
  • Introduction
  • Development – Towards the High-Power
    • The M1900
    • The M1903
    • The M1910
    • The M1910/22
    • Designing the High-Power [Page 10]
    • The Colt M1911 and its Influence
    • The M1923 and M1928
    • Refining the High-Power
    • The High-Power Exposed [Color Cut-Away Labeled Illustration]
    • The Shoulder Stock
    • Post-War Modifications
    • New Directions
    • Three New Models
    • Browning Arms Hi-Powers in the US| Market
    • The Mark II
    • 7.65x21mm High-Powers
    • The Mark III
    • .40 S&W High Powers
  • Use: The High-Power Goes to War
    • Early Adoption [Page 28]
    • Belgian High-Powers at War
    • The High-Power in German Service
    • The Inglis High-Power
    • Chinese High-Powers
    • Canada Adopts the High-Power
    • Operation Varsity, March 1945 [2-page Color Illustration]
    • Britain Follows Suit
    • FN After the German Occupation
    • Post-War Canadian High-Powers [Page 44]
    • Lightening the High-Power
    • Inglis Pistols in Other Hands
    • The High-Power in Europe
    • British Special Forces and the High-Power [Page 49]
    • Royal Military Police Close Protection Teams
    • Armed Metropolitan Police Units and the High-Power
    • The High-Power in the Americas
    • The FBI Hostage Rescue Team and the Browning High-Power
    • The High–Power in Africa
    • The Mozambique Drill
    • The High-Power in Asia
    • The High-Power in the Chinese Civil War [2-page Color Illustration]
    • The High-Power in Vietnam
    • Afghanistan 2012 [1-page Color Illustration] [Page 61]
    • Select High-Powers
    • The High-Power in the Middle East
    • The High-Power in Iraqi Service
  • Impact: An Influential Handgun
    • The High-Power and Its Competitors
    • The High-Power’s Design Influence
    • Licensed and Unlicensed Manufacturers of the High-Power
    • Replacing the High-Power
    • Customizing the High-Power
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index

I found the initial design and development quite interesting. John Browning had sold the rights to the guns he designed to Colt in the United States. What this meant was that one of his major designs, the 1911, restricted his future designs. John Browning had begun a relationship with FN for ex-US marketing of his semi-automatic 7.65 Browning for which Colt had no interest in. This relationship eventually evolved into the 9x19mm High-Power pistol. John Browning actually provided Colt with two prototypes for Colt’s approval. Although Colt had no interest, Colt did file the patents for John Browning in 1923. An interesting footnote is that the Colt 1911 patent expired in 1928.

I really appreciated the structure that Osprey’s Weapon Series utilizes, starting with the origin of the selected weapon and the following discussion on its development, operational use, and finally a summary of its effectiveness in the ‘Conclusion’ chapter. Leroy Thompson provides an easy read with plenty of photographs that support the storyline. The labeled cutaway illustrations provide insight into the machine gun’s operation through Alan Gilliland’s full color illustrations. Adam Hook’s color paintings put you into the battle in three different eras. I was able to read the book easily over two evenings. If you own one the previous releases in the Weapon series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!


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